What are the differences between stress and anxiety?

We all experience stress and/or anxiety at times. But, did you know that there is more than one type of stress?


In general, stress is a response to external factors that can vary a great deal, anything from being bored to a stressful commute, the breakup of a relationship or divorce or even just being in a relationship that has lost its spark.

What are some common types of stress?


Hypostress could be caused by boredom, an unchallenging repetitive job, or a boring and unfulfilling lifestyle. It may be accompanied by feelings of restlessness and irritation. For example, a physically very active person could experience this type of stress when they retire. They might struggle to adapt to a much more scaled-down life. This is often true when someone enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a busy working life and interacting with colleagues or the public on a daily basis.

Episodic and acute episodic stress

Episodic stress is periods of stress suffered for a short or limited period of time. Examples could be being stuck in heavy traffic and, as a result, being late for an important appointment or work or receiving bad news.

We all experience episodic stress at times but, depending on our reactions to these situations, the effects could be over in minutes or have a lasting effect on our day. When stress levels are exceptionally high, a person might experience headaches, sweating, nausea, tummy troubles or even vomiting. 

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is stressful episodes of prolonged or constant feelings of stress. It could be caused by such issues as stress in the family, financial or work stress. Chronic stress and its ongoing effects can cause real harm to the body and mind. It can cause digestive problems, headaches, and struggles to concentrate for short or longer periods.

It can also cause some real changes in appetite, such as overeating or not eating enough. It can affect a person’s sleeping patterns, which, in turn, can make us even feel worse physically and less able to deal with lesser everyday stresses. This type of stress can increase the likelihood of heart attacks or strokes and even disrupt the immune system or reproductive system.

Traumatic stress

In traumatic stress, stress can be caused, for example, by childhood or domestic abuse. Childhood abuse, in particular, can leave its scars for decades on a person’s life and affect their relationships and how they deal with stress in general.

Traumatic stress could be caused by a single traumatic event, such as being in or witnessing a bad road accident, or by a series of events such as mental or physical abuse. Traumatic stress could lead to the next level of stress which is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Did you know that not all types of stress are bad for you?

Eustress means 'beneficial stress'. An example of eustress would be a challenging homework assignment, going on a first date or training and preparing for a sporting event.

The Endocrinologist Hans Selye first came up with the term 'eustress'. The opposite of positive eustress would be negative distress. Stress is mostly viewed and used to describe a negative experience or connotation, but it has a positive or beneficial effect in eustress.

Having looked at some of the main types of stress, we know that stress is a natural response or reaction to change or fear. Prolonged or chronic episodes of stress can be detrimental to a person's well-being and ability to function well in their personal or work-life.

How do stress and anxiety differ?

The difference between stress and anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress, and, unlike stress, anxiety originates internally or from within. So, in short, stress is caused by what goes on around us, what we find stressful in dealing with, and anxiety comes from within. Anxiety arises from our thoughts, the thought of what might happen.

So, why do we become anxious? It's for the same reasons that we experience stress. Both are natural responses and, in fact, are part of how humans have adapted to new or unknown circumstances since the beginning of time.

Adrenalin and the ensuing 'fight or flight' response is what has kept us alive as a species. We also have the adrenalin response when we are happy or excited but we experience pleasant emotions in that state, not the negative ones we associate with regular anxiety. Stress and anxiety are connected as they have very similar symptoms, and stress can lead to anxiety if not addressed.

People who have fears or phobias worry excessively about what might happen in any given situation, where they could be faced with what, to them, is a highly uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation. It is the thoughts of these potentially dangerous or “what might happen scenarios” that could produce anxiety and its accompanying symptoms. For example, the fear of flying or dental phobia.

Anxiety, if left untreated could really impact a person’s mental well-being. Your GP might advise you to try psychological treatment such as talking therapies before you are prescribed medication.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Anxiety can generally be dealt with effectively through talking therapies or hypnotherapy and hypnoanalysis. If you are experiencing regular feelings of stress, or anxiety is affecting your life in a negative or detrimental way, hypnotherapy could be invaluable as a treatment.

It could help reduce stress, intense worrying, and anxiety by utilising the power of suggestion to obtain positive change. In combination with NLP, hypnosis can be a very powerful tool for change. Depending on the severity of the stress or anxiety you experience a hypnotherapist will advise you on the number of sessions needed. 

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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